Attention is very much like a searchlight, and it should be mounted in such a way that it can be trained on any subject freely. When we are caught up in some compulsion, this searchlight has become stuck. After many years of being stuck like this, it is hard to believe that the light can turn. We think that the compulsion has become a permanent part of our personality. But gradually, we can learn to work our attention loose.

As an experiment, try to work cheerfully at some job you dislike: you are training your attention to go where you want it to go. Whatever you do, give it your best concentration. Another good exercise is learning to drop what you are doing and shift your attention to something else when the situation demands. For example, when you leave your office, leave your work there, too. Don't let it follow you home and come into the dining room like an untrained dog, barking at your heels.

All this is the spiritual equivalent of kicking exercises in a dance lesson or knee bends in aerobics class. By practicing these exercises, anybody can learn to direct attention freely.

Eknath Easwaran in Words to Live By